You Never Realized These Foods Were Giving You Constipation

You Never Realized These Foods Were Giving You Constipation

Nobody likes to talk about constipation. It’s embarrassing and often painful, and generally not considered a topic for polite company. The truth is that most people, at some point in their lives, will experience constipation. It can be caused by a number of different things, and some of them may be serious. Not only that, but when it is left untreated constipation can require expensive medical treatments. A 2015 study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston revealed that emergency room visits for constipation are on the rise, and that those visits cost approximately $1.6 billion annually.

Before we talk about the foods that can cause constipation, let’s talk about constipation itself – what is it, and what are some of the potential causes?

Understanding Constipation

Simply put, constipation is what occurs when your bowel movements are infrequent or difficult. It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because the frequency of bowel movement can vary greatly from person to person. Some people only experience one bowel movement every two to three days, while others may have several every day. However, a good rule of thumb is that if you go longer than three days without a bowel movement, you have constipation.

Infrequent bowel movements are not the only symptom of constipation. Here are some others:

  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Having two or fewer bowel movements per week
  • Having hard or small stools
  • Having incomplete evacuation (a sense of not being able to complete your bowel movement)
  • Abdominal pain or a hard or swollen abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you are straining during bowel movements or having hard stools frequently – at least 25% of the time – then you most likely have constipation, even if the other symptoms are not present.

Having chronic constipation can lead to additional problems. For example, pushing hard during a bowel movement may cause hemorrhoids, which can be extremely painful.

While the foods we are going to discuss below cause constipation, they are not the only cause. Here are some other factors that may cause or contribute to constipation:

  • Eating inadequate amounts of dietary fiber
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Inadequate exercise
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Traveling, or any other disruption of your regular routine
  • Overusing laxatives (this might seem contradictory, but if you use laxatives for a long period of time they can weaken your rectal muscles, making it more difficult for you to have regular bowel movements)
  • Depression
  • Pregnancy
  • Neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease
  • Medications, including narcotic pain medications, antidepressants and iron supplements
  • Eating disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

It is important to see your doctor for prolonged or serious constipation, as it may indicate a serious underlying problem such as colon cancer.

Foods That Give You Constipation

It is important to eat a wide variety of healthy foods, but some foods may not be doing you any favors when it comes to constipation. Let’s take a look at the 10 foods most likely to cause constipation.

constipation dairy
Dairy products. Foods like milk and cheese contain a high volume of fat, but almost no fiber. They can slow down your digestive process, thus backing up your bowel movements. For people who are sensitive to lactose, eating dairy foods may also cause gas which can increase the pain associated with constipation.
Fried foods. Similar to dairy products, most friend foods are high in fat and low in fiber. They can make you feel full, but they can also wreak havoc with your digestive system. If you suffer from constipation, avoid fried foods such as potato and corn chips, French fries and fried chicken.
Bread and buns over wooden background
Not everybody is sensitive to gluten, but people who are may find that it causes gas, bloating and constipation. Gluten is the protein found in grains such as wheat and barley. Because it is found in wheat, people with a gluten sensitivity should avoid eating bread, pasta and other baked goods made with flour.
constipation red meat
Red meat. Red meat is another high-fat food that can contribute to constipation. It also contains difficult-to-digest protein fibers, which can block the intestinal tract and make bowel movements more difficult.
Frozen pizza with ham and pineapple on the plate
Frozen meals and other highly-processed foods. Processed foods tend to be very high in sodium, and sodium can cause dehydration and constipation. People who experience constipation on a regular basis should drink more water and reduce the amount of salt in their diets.
Cup of coffee with coffee beans on brown wooden background
Caffeine is a natural diuretic and consuming too much of it may cause dehydration, which can cause or exacerbate constipation. If you drink a lot of coffee, tea or caffeinated sodas, cutting back may relieve your symptoms.
Organic Dark Chocolate Candy Bar
Chocolate is delicious, but it’s also a double threat when it comes to constipation because it is high in fat and may also contain caffeine. Small amounts of dark chocolate are healthy, but be careful not to overdo it.
Eating too much sugar isn’t a good idea even if you’re not constipated, but it can be especially bad for people who are. Sugar contains no fiber or nutritional value. Be careful of added sugar in processed foods, as it can often hide under other names. As a rule, any ingredients ending in –ose are sugar. Examples include sucrose, fructose, dextrose, and maltose.
If you are experiencing constipation, be careful not to eat unripe or under ripe bananas. They are very high in starch, which can contribute to constipation. However, very ripe bananas may actually have the opposite effect!
constipation eggs
Like red meat, eggs are high in fat and low in fiber. Eggs can be a healthy part of your diet, but if constipation is a problem for you better sources of protein include fiber-rich vegetable options like beans and legumes.

Of course, relieving constipation is not just about eliminating the above foods from your diet. It is also important to make sure that you stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and that you get enough dietary fiber in your diet. A good guideline is to get between 30 and 35 grams of fiber every day. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and certain seeds such as chia seeds.

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